The seven sins of financial planning

How to stay on the virtuous path

At this time of the year, when Black Friday madness looms, and financial responsibility seems to evaporate for many people, it’s helpful to revisit what I consider to be the most common financial and planning errors most people make. Over the years, I’ve boiled it down to the seven deadly sins of financial planning. I first produced this list in my blog a few years ago. But it continues to be a popular item, so I thought I’d run it again as a refresher on how to stay financial virtuous and scale back the many temptations and excesses of the holiday shopping whirlwind. Here’s my list, then, and some suggestions for how to avoid those deadly financial sins. READ MORE

Budgeting for wealth

Little changes can make a big difference

As this is Financial Literacy month, and the theme is “Take Charge of Your Finances!”, I want to talk about the very foundation of financial literacy, the building block of successful financial management: the budget. I can sense eyes glazing over right now, but before you click away to another more interesting page or a funny cat video, let me talk about lattés instead. READ MORE

Should you buy hard assets now?

Precious metals, gems a risky way to hedge risk

The headlines are hard to miss. There’s the seemingly endless tariff war between China and the U.S. Then there’s the truly endless sabre rattling in the Middle East, most recently between Turkey and the Kurds in Northern Syria. How about the tit-for-tat oil tanker attacks and hijackings between Saudi Arabia and Iran? Brexit anyone? Efforts by Democrats to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump. Mass rioting in Hong Kong, Chile, Bolivia. Separatist sentiments rising in Canada following the election of a weak minority Liberal government. For some investors, it’s all a bit much, and many are asking if market risk has cranked up to new highs. Is now the time to switch at least some of your funds to so-called portable hard assets, like gold and gemstones, which tend to keep their value in times of turmoil? READ MORE

Creating an income stream when your RRSP matures

Three basic RRSP maturity options

Unlike a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) does not last forever. In fact, it has a specific date by which you must collapse the plan and choose one of three main options for what to do with the proceeds. Here’s a look at how this works. READ MORE

Protection against investment loss is hard to come by

Guarantees are expensive, insurance is limited

As stock markets gyrate alarmingly in this season of market volatility, novice investors often start to have second thoughts about their investment strategy, especially those novices who don’t have a financial plan, an investment strategy policy, or a clue about their real tolerance for risk. That’s when financial advisors start to get questions about “guaranteed” investments and deposit insurance and segregated funds, and other types of vehicles that seem to offer safe haven or some protection against loss. Let’s take a look at some of these, and see what’s really involved.

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Do you need all that insurance?

The big business of life, mortgage, and critical illness insurance

Insurance is a numbers game. Anyone who has ever purchased any kind of life or health insurance knows this firsthand. But here’s one number you won’t often hear about: $4.7 trillion (no mistake, that’s a “T”). That’s how much life insurance coverage is owned by the 22 million Canadians who have policies, according to the Canada Life and Health Insurance Association 2018 report. In 2017, that represented $21.4 billion in premiums. And the average coverage per household is $417,000. Health insurance added another $43 billion in premiums. No doubt about it – insurance is big business in Canada. Here’s a quick look at the types of insurance advisors are asked about most frequently. READ MORE

Three first steps for the suddenly rich

Financial planning for lottery winnings, inheritances, gifts

For those few who are lucky major lottery prize winners or for those who have inherited sudden wealth, the real question isn’t how to spend it…it’s how to keep it. For people in this rarefied group, my advice is always to start with these three first steps. READ MORE

Seniors playing with fire when taking on a big debt

The use and abuse of mortgages in retirement

Are retirees playing with fire? They could be if they decide to use money borrowed through a mortgage to supplement their other sources of retirement income. The most common ways those at or close to retirement do this is to hold a mortgage through their Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA) or to borrow money against their home through a so-called “reverse mortgage.” But retirees should think long and hard before entering into either of these arrangements. READ MORE

Robyn has good news for worried retired teacher

Robyn Thompson is featured in The Globe and Mail’s “Financial Facelift” series by Diane Maley. This time, Ruth, a retired teacher, is worried that her existing savings and reduced income won’t be enough to provide for her kids’ university education or support her financially into retirement. Read Robyn Thompson’s advice on how Ruth can stop worrying by creating a financial plan that rebalances her existing assets into a tax-efficient, income-producing portfolio.

Dealing with market scares

Resist the urge to “do something”

Unless you’ve been away on vacation in a secluded place, you’ll know that stock markets sank alarmingly earlier this month as the U.S. Treasury bond yield curve “inverted” – that is, the yield on short-term bonds climbed above the yield on long-term bonds, albeit only very briefly. Fearing that an inverted yield curve signals a recession (as it often has historically), traders went into full-on panic mode, dumping stocks and moving to “safe haven” investments, like gold and, yes, bonds. The big North American stock market indices consequently lost ground, some sinking by triple-digit amounts in a span of two days. So is it really time to panic, sell all your stocks, and hunker down with your piles of cash? READ MORE

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